I’m a bit of a packrat when it comes to books. My walls are lined with shelves and there are little stacks of books all over the place, but I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve only read about half of them. A couple months ago, frustrated by how incredibly cluttered my space is, I pulled the unread books off of my shelves and stacked them up next to my bed, vowing to either read or get rid of all of them.
Unfortunately, I ran out of structural stability for the stack before I ran out of unread books, so there are still quite a few that are not even on the pile. Still, it’s a start, and here are my reviews of this month’s reading.
BORN CONFUSED -Tanuja Desai Hidier
This was a really good one — it follows 17-year old Dimple Lala, who is generally confused about her family, the way her heritage fits into her life, her changing friendships, and of course, rooomance. It was a really satisfying and emotional read, and it tugged all over my tear ducts in the best way.
DEATH COMES FOR THE ARCHBISHOP -Willa Cather
Honestly, I wanted to like this book, because I read Willa Cather’s My Antonia in high school and grew to appreciate it, but couldn’t get there. It’s about a Catholic bishop and priest in mid/late 1800’s New Mexico and just made me irritated because it’s very bland and sympathetic to European imperialism, although I suppose it’s one of those books where you have to acknowledge when it was written.
It’s gotten a lot of praise, but it just wasn’t for me.
THE GREAT GATSBY -F. Scott Fitzgerald
I was not really blown away by it, but I didn’t really expect to be — I was fairly familiar with the plot because of the movie and a book I read that took a ton of material from it. It’s worth reading, and I enjoyed it while I was reading it, but considering it’s part of the White Dude Canon of Classic Lit, it’s pretty much what you’d expect.
MIDDLESEX -Jeffrey Eugenides
This was another really good one, and I really liked that it was a multi-generational novel. (I find novels that span large periods of time very satisfying, for some reason.) It’s got some history, some family secrets, a strong self-discovery/coming of age bent, and some High Quality Prose.
The one note I would give on this book is to avoid passing judgement on the characters — I was initially very put off by the incest in the novel, but I kinda just came to realize that the book isn’t passing some moral/ethical judgement, and it’s not supposed to. The first 300-400 pages are heavily generational backstory, telling how the narrator came to be, not just genetically but also culturally. The last 100 pages utterly ripped my heart out, just like Feeling all the Feelings for Callie/Cal, and it’s definitely a book I will be thinking about for a long time.
THIS ONE SUMMER -Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki
I treasure graphic novels just because of the art inside, but there was something about the conclusion of this story that kind of left me feeling like it wasn’t done. (Although maybe it was supposed to make me feel that way.) I guess my primary issue with it is that it seems like every character except the main character goes through the change they need. [Putting a lil spoiler alert on this, even though I felt like this was kind of obviously foreshadowed.] Rose, the main character, doesn’t really show a ton of self-awarenes/reflection, but we can see her parents work through issues caused by her mother’s miscarriage, as well as a number of other characters dealing with their own conflict. Meanwhile, Rose lashes out and gossips, and when another character points out that Rose might be being sexist by calling another character a slut, Rose never really stops and reflects on the way her actions hurt others. The way the story ended kinda left me feeling unresolved, although I’m still not sure if that was purposeful or not.